CLEMSON — As Clemson muddled through an ugly offensive effort last fall, a question which percolated but was never answered with authority regarded Dabo Swinney’s input into the Tigers’ offense under Billy Napier.
With the No.13 Tigers 4-0 and gaining steam with Chad Morris’ hurry-up, no-huddle offense, the question came up again Wednesday.
Swinney told reporters on the ACC’s weekly coaches’ teleconference that Morris has full control over playcalling, but his entire offensive staff has input.
“It’s really not any different than it's been since I've been the head coach,” he said. “You know, I trust both my coordinators. They do a great job. My background is as an offensive guy. From an x-and-o standpoint, I'm always a little more involved offensively just because of my background. I would say most head coaches are that way, whichever side of the ball they kind of came up in.
“Chad calls the plays, and we talk through things all the time, between series, halftime, sometimes during a series. He has done a tremendous job in running our offense. But all of the coaches, everybody has input, and we try to have as many eyes on the right things as possible to gather as much information as we can so that we can do a good job of calling plays.”
Swinney said “good play calls” are a crucial part of the offense, as is the tempo, execution and decision-making.
“Sometimes we've got two or three things going on in a play, so we don't really know what's going to happen,” he said. “A lot of it is decisions by the quarterback. That's been one of the bright spots on our team. Tajh (Boyd) has done a great job in making good decisions from an execution standpoint of the play that's been called.”
Is it difficult to bite his tongue on the headsets?
“Oh, no, no, no,” Swinney said. “I've been doing this a long time. First of all, we've got great chemistry on our staff. I go back and forth. I'm with the offense during offense, but I'm over on the defensive side during defense, and trying to keep up.
“There's always a flow that you want your play caller to have you don't ever want to interrupt that. Sometimes as a head coach, there is input (Morris) needs as far as strategy, what we want to do, those type of things. That's about it, but, no, it's not any chaos or anything like that.”
“Dawson has been doing some light punting. I think we'll increase that a little bit today (Wednesday),” he said. “I think we did some light, not full speed running with Nuke yesterday. We'll push him a little more today. But D.J. looks pretty good. He's going to be put back into practice today, which is good, as far as doing everything. We'll still limit Nuke and Dawson today, but, again, my anticipation is by 6:00 Saturday night they're going to be feeling like they're ready to go.”
First pick: “Sam” linebacker Quandon Christian snagged the first interception of his college career Saturday by picking off FSU quarterback Clint Trickett. It was Christian’s first pick since his senior year of high school.
“It was a play-action pass, naked boot, and I was on the run,” he said. “I shuffled down a little bit and saw his pass. I knew I had the flat, so I dropped back to the flats. He acted like he was going to run. He stepped up and threw it and I just jumped. … I think he thought he could throw it over my head.”
Christian says the college game has become much easier for him since he took a greater interest in Kevin Steele’s defensive playbook.
“ Last year I didn’t really know the playbook at the beginning of the year, that much,” he said. “At the end of the year, it came along, I started looking at the playbook a little more, looking at other players, how they played their techniques. I’m a whole lot more comfortable.”